After the promising brilliance of last week's episode, The Hub was an unfortunate slip backwards into mediocrity.
Barring a couple of interesting bits of kit - the mag-bag (a high tech version of Sam and Frodo's elven cloaks from The Return Of The King) and the roll-up X-ray 'window' - the main storyline was a very pedestrian piece of spy fiction with Agents Ward and Fitz being sent into South Ossetia to defuse a dangerous MacGuffin being held by a group of stock separatists.
Meanwhile the rest of the team were hanging around S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ (aka The Hub), seemingly with nothing to do. And you know what they say about the Devil finding work for idle hands?
Skye decides she wants to know more about the mission her colleagues are on - even though it's classified - and so, once again hacks in to the S.H.I.E.L.D. mainframe... and discovers there isn't a plan to get Ward and Fitz out again.
Now, I'm sorry, but why does Coulson - and S.H.I.E.L.D. - tolerate Skye? She's one baby step away from being a terrorist, has no respect for the command structure of the organisation she claims to want to work for and has proved herself time and again to be untrustworthy.
And are we supposed to trust S.H.I.E.L.D.? Sometimes they are the un-superpowered protectors of mankind, but here they are caught in a lie and seem willing to leave their agents out to dry. Are they good guys or are they a soulless, faceless monolith of back-stabby spies?
There were, as always, some nice little moments of fanservice - such as the mention of the Triskelion (but why not the helicarrier?) and some more familiar faces: the return of Agent Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernández) from the Marvel One-Shots and Avengers Assemble as well as the introduction of Victoria Hand (Saffron Burrows) from the comics. Of course both of these are, ultimately, just agents in suits and not exactly costumed superheroes, but I guess we take what we can get, right?
The Hub felt a very half-hearted episode. The Ward/Fitz plot could have been lifted from Chuck or countless other spy-fi shows while the rest of the team had nothing to do except cause mischief in the headquarters.
Coulson's suspicions are mounting about how he survived being "killed" by Loki in Avengers Assemble, but this is another sub-plot that needs to be addressed quickly, before it gets out of hand.
The hints/teases about him being a Life Model Decoy continued in The Hub but there's a very passionate and persuasive piece over at ComicBookMovie.com as to why this is ridiculous.